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A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

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A Churchman Extraordinaire, with a Heart for Missions

reavis_james_overtonJames Overton Reavis was born in Florida, Monroe County, Missouri on December 8, 1872 to parents James Overton Reavis and Ellen Roselle Reavis. He received his education at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, graduating in 1896 with the BA degree and the MA degree from the same institution in 1897. Reavis then attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 1897-1899, graduating with the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Another B.D. degree was earned at Princeton Theological Seminary after attending there, 1900-1901, while also attending New York University, where he studied comparative religion under the venerable F.F. Ellinwood, then Secretary of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Dr. Reavis had unusual opportunities of study in the field of Biblical Theology; first, with Dr. Marquess at the Kentucky Seminary (as it was sometimes called), then with Dr. Vos at the Princeton Seminary, and also special courses at the Seminary of the Free Church in Edinburgh during one term overseas. After graduating at the Seminary he went to Montana with an invalid sister, securing the restoration of her health, and there he engaged in home missionary work for a few months.

Rev. Reavis was ordained on 12 April 1900 by Palmyra Presbytery (PCUS) and installed as stated supply of the First Presbyterian Church of Louisville, Kentucky, serving this church immediately following his graduation from Princeton, from 1901-1902. This was during the absence in Europe of the pastor, Rev. J. S. Lyons, D.D. He was married in December, 1902, to Miss Eva Witherspoon, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon, who had passed away in 1898. His father-in-law had served this same church as pastor from 1882-1891. Mr. Reavis also concurrently supplied for a short time Louisville’s Second Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Reavis then accepted a call from the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas and pastored that church from 1902-1905. During his pastorate there of two and a half years the church increased in membership from 497 to 830; 140 of the additions were on profession of faith. The church eventually had four Sunday schools, with an enrollment of more than 600 pupils; two new church buildings were erected in Dallas, and two in the Home Mission field of Western Texas. The church supported one missionary in Korea, one in Japan, and one in Western Texas.

Mr. Reavis was later made Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Orphanage of the Synod of Texas, and was instrumental in raising $20,000 for this institution. He was an applicant for appointment as missionary to Korea, but was prevented by providential circumstances from going. His interest in that particular field may have derived from his wife’s sister, Lottie Bell, and her husband Eugene Bell having served as missionaries to Korea.

Even as a young man, Mr. Reavis was very active in Christian work from the beginning of his college days. His missionary aspirations, and his remarkable record in developing the missionary life and activity of his church, were qualities which led to Mr. Reavis being called to the work which the PCUS Assembly had in mind in electing a second foreign missionary secretary.

reavis_eva_witherspoon_smFrom 1906 until 1911, Rev. Reavis served as the Secretary for the Executive Committee on Foreign Missions of the PCUS, in Nashville, Tennessee. He later resigned that position to return to the pastorate, answering a call to the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina, where he served from 1911 until 1914. During these same years, his wife Eva was active with the Women’s Synodical and in the 1913-14 term, served as its president. From 1914 to 1920, Dr. Reavis was professor of English Bible and Homiletic and Pastoral Theology at the Columbia Theological Seminary, and the PCA Historical Center has preserved several of his course syllabii from Columbia. His final service to the Church was to return as the Secretary of the Executive Committee on Foreign Missions, serving a lengthy term from 1920 to 1943.

In 1943 Dr. Reavis was honorably retired, residing in Burns, Tennessee until his death on August 21, 1959. Honors received during his life include the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Austin College in 1908 and the LL.D. degree, awarded by the Alabama Presbyterian College in 1916. An article of his, “Four Kinds of Souls,” was published posthumously in The Southern Presbyterian Journal, in the September 23, 1959 issue (pages 9, 11, 15).

Words to Live By:
It is a mistake to think that just because you are a Christian, that everything will simply fall into your lap. Life takes work. Natural talent is nothing without discipline and training. And depending upon your calling in life, it may take many years of preparation to properly come into the place where God has called you. Think of Moses and of Paul, as but two examples in Scripture. Those who would minister the Word of God must be diligent students of the Scriptures, and those called to other endeavors must also do their work as unto the Lord.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.–2 Timothy 2:15, KJV

Sources:
The Missionary, 38.1 (January 1905): 36-37.
Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, (Atlanta, GA: Hubbard Printing Company, 1950), page 569.
See also : Calhoun, David B., The Glory of the Lord Risen Upon It, pp. 173-183.

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The PCA’s recent 42d General Assembly, having convened in Houston, Texas, we will take this opportunity to refresh the following memory of an old Texas Presbyterian who lived and breathed the history of all things Presbyterian in that State. 

A Historian for a Historical Devotional

redWmStuartThe Presbyterian minister was convinced that when young men were called into the ministry, and then left the state of Texas for their religious training, most of them never returned to the Lone Star State.  So there was obviously one solution, namely, begin a theological seminary in Texas.  And he did, even giving the land for it, and today Austin Theological Seminary (a seminary of the PCUSA) is in existence today.

The Texas minister was William Stuart Red. Born in 1857, though some say 1860, in Washington County, Texas, he attended for a while a university in Tennessee before transferring to Austin College in Austin, Texas.  He then studied at Princeton Seminary for one year before transferring to Columbia Theological Seminary in 1884-85.  Finally, he returned back to the Lone Star State to Austin School of Theology and graduated from there in 1886.  After some further study in Germany and Scotland, he returned for licensure and ordination as a Presbyterian minister in the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1887.

He was the pastor at six Presbyterian churches in Texas.  Beyond his care for the churches, he was also interested in a central depository for Presbyterian and Reformed history.  So, along with the Rev. Samuel Terry, Rev. Red gave funds for the creation of the Historical Foundation of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches at Montreat, North Carolina.

Before he died on July 8, 1933, his project after retirement from the ministry was the History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas.  His family finished up the 500 page book after his death from papers he had written.  Our PCA Historical Center has a copy of it in St. Louis, Missouri.

Words to Live By: 
He seemed to be larger than life, but then aren’t all Texans?  Yet it is important to remember that his love for the state of Texas was grounded in Christian Presbyterianism in Texas.  Paul’s haunting question in the New Testament was “How shall they hear without a preacher?”  Rev. Red wanted Presbyterian preachers to train and serve their Lord and God so that his fellow Texans could hear the unsearchable riches of God’s grace.  That is true for all of our states.  Pray for where God has placed you on this day that the everlasting good news of eternal life might impact your state.

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A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

Daniel Baker at Princeton [excerpted from The Life and Labors of the Rev. Daniel Bakerpp. 69-70:
Chapter III. – While a Student at Princeton.
Having reached Princeton, I offered myself, on the opening of the winter session of 1813, as a candidate for the Junior Class, and after examination was admitted. I was located in room 39, and had for my room-mate a most estimable and pious young man named Thomas Biggs. At this time religion was at a very low ebb in the College. There were about one hundred and forty-five students, and of these, only six, so far as I knew, made any profession of religion, and even two of these six seemed to care very little about the matter; for although four of us, Price, Allen, Biggs, and myself, agreed to meet every evening for what was called family prayer, they kept entirely aloof. Feeling it my duty to do what I could for my fellow-students in Princeton, as at Hampden Sydney College, I selected certain individuals to be made the subjects of special prayer and effort, one named M and the other V. The first, during the revival which subsequently took place in College, professed conversion, and in after years became a Presbyterian preacher.
. . . During the whole of this session religion was at a very low ebb indeed; it was deemed a matter of reproach to be a professor [i.e., of the Christian faith]; and by way of contempt, those, who did make a profession of religion, particularly those who composed the praying band, were termed “the Religiosi.” Grieved to see the abounding of iniquity in College, I proposed to my three associates, Price, Allen, and Biggs, that we should establish a weekly prayer-meeting for the especial purpose of praying for a revival of religion in College. This proposition was made sometime during the second session, and was immediately and cordially acceded to. Accordingly this prayer-meeting was held regularly until the close of the session, and none attended but the four already named, and one non-professor, Symmes C. Henry, who subsequently became, for many years, pastor of Cranbury church, New Jersey. At the commencement of the third session, as our prayers seemed not to have been heard, I was somewhat doubtful about continuing our weekly prayer-meeting, but, very happily, my associates were clear for continuing it, and it was well; for although we knew it not, the blessing was nigh, even at the doors.”

For Further Reading : Works by the Rev. Daniel Baker
1. A Series of Revival Sermons (1846).
2. Revival Sermons. Second Series. (1854).
3. A Plain and Scriptural View of Baptism (1853),
[we encourage you to download these ebooks, in the format of your choice & save them to your computer’s hard-drive for your future use and edification.]

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